Pet store’s new business plan could be hurtful

Daily Athenaeum photo by Doyle Maurer Donald Duck enjoys a sunny Tuesday afternoon with his temporary caretakers.
Daily Athenaeum photo by Doyle Maurer
Donald Duck enjoys a sunny Tuesday afternoon with his temporary caretakers.

An editorial from The Daily Athenaeum

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Animal House’s “Rent-A-Duck” program, which allows students and families to rent ducklings for $14.99, is quickly gaining popularity among students. It’s not hard to see why.

The idea of renting a cute animal for a limited time is especially appealing to those who enjoy having a pet but don’t want to deal with the long-term responsibilities of caring for it.

To the customer, it sounds like the perfect plan: find a cute duckling or chick, get the starter pack, play with it and give it back when the responsibility is overwhelming. Students can learn to be more responsible for someone other than themselves, and the duckling or chick receives some human affection.

The Animal House makes profit when the ducks are rented or returned, as the ducks are then sent to a farm in Preston County where they will be used to lay eggs, which are then sold back to the community. It’s a good solution all around, from a business perspective.

The customer, middle man and the farm all win in this situation.

Despite all the fluffy good feelings about the program, there are also so many ways this could go wrong. Caring for a pet, albeit a temporary one, is time-consuming and requires a lot of commitment from the carer.

The target market may be for families with children, but students are a significant portion of the intended market, and students lead an unpredictable schedule. They have their college careers, part-time work and active social lives that may not permit properly raising a duckling.

Granted, some may argue they don’t have social lives as active as their peers, but the argument still stands. Does your academic schedule give you breathing time, let alone a good chunk of time to raise a duckling or chick?

There are individuals who can juggle their school work and caring for a pet, and because the duration of the rental is essentially on the renter’s terms, some ducks can be returned even after a week or two if the renter feels overwhelmed. What happens then…

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